Every business owner thinks about exiting their business. Some hope to sell. Others may have plans for somebody to ‘take over’ (e.g., next generation; partner/co-owner; employees via employee stock ownership plans; etc.). Maybe the plan is to step away slowly and continue to take an income or profit. Regardless of the plan, the success of each is largely contingent upon the health of the business.
Any buyer will want some assurance of continuing revenue, as well as the ability to continue operations at a profit. The likelihood of recurring revenue lessens when the ‘Selling CEO’ exits and there is no team in place to drive sales. Let’s assume there is a sales and marketing team to drive revenue. Is there an operating system with the accountability in place to execute on delivering the products and services sold? Does the system measure the effectiveness of those responsible? Do you have trusted relationships with suppliers? How well documented are your systems and processes?
It might seem counterintuitive, but a good test of this happens with a passive CEO. What happens when you (the owner/CEO) take time off? Imagine taking a two-week vacation with no access to your phone or computer. Would the business thrive or would you come back to a firestorm? Take it a step further. Does your management team have a clear direction for the next 3-5 years? Are your vision, values, and goals clear? Would they share the same view of that long-term goal in your absence?
Based on our collective experience in leading Peer Advisory Boards (Mastermind Groups) and one-on-one executive coaching, if the answer is ‘no’, it’s unlikely the team will be able to provide strategic direction, much less daily tactical direction.
The following article shares similar guidance. Please tell us about your experience, as you dream about exit and begin to move closer to leaving your business.
Why Many Small Businesses Cannot Be Sold (NY TImes)